Note:  Information in this section comes from the Chamber's 2003 edition of Coastline Magazine.  To get the most current issue of Coastline, call the Chamber at (603) 436-3988, email [email protected], or visit the Chamber Store on this site.  Cost of the Chamber's relocation kit, which includes Coastline Magazine, is $13. This price includes shipping and handling. Coastline also features a comprehensive business directory of more than 1,000 Chamber-member businesses listed by category. 

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By Joal Hetherington

If a little learning is a dangerous thing, as Alexander Pope suggested, there’s only one obvious solution—a lot of learning. And that is exactly what the Seacoast area offers to anyone who’s interested. Portsmouth has always had a strong commitment to education, and lately a number of initiatives and a mutually supportive relationship between business and local institutions of learning is fostering new opportunities and excellence. "This is an exciting time as far as connecting with the business community," notes Lyonel Tracy, superintendent of the Portsmouth public school system.

The remarkable number of schools and colleges hereabouts, covering everything from preschool through postdoctoral and adult continuing education, makes it clear that learning is a lifelong pursuit in the Seacoast. It all begins, of course, with the city’s elementary, middle and high schools. A recent survey rated New Hampshire students fourth in reading and third in math nationwide, and Portsmouth students consistently rank at or near the top on state tests such as the NHEIAP for 10th graders. But these statistics tell only part of the story.

A $38 million bond issue approved in 2002 reveals the depth of community commitment and is already showing results in renovations at Portsmouth’s elementary schools and especially at the high school. Due to be completed in early 2004, the state-of-the-art high-school campus will include an expanded central library, a renovated auditorium, a new science wing, and a new technical education wing for which the district is seeking state funding, says Tracy. These improvements reaffirm the district’s commitment to career-oriented education, especially in the high-tech field, and will go a long way toward helping the district fulfill its stated mission "to educate all students by challenging them to become thinking, responsible, contributing citizens."

So will another exciting recent development: The Portsmouth school system has donated Wentworth School, which was standing idle, to the nonprofit Exchange City to develop as one of its innovative centers. Exchange City trains teachers to present an eight-week economics and entrepreneurship curriculum to 5th- and 6th-graders. The highlight of the course is a visit to Exchange City, where students use the principles and practices they’ve learned to run the "city" for a day—operating businesses, running its government, and so on. Portsmouth’s Exchange City, the first in New England, will draw students from all over the region after it opens in fall of 2003—and in exchange for the building, the usual per-child fee will be waived for Portsmouth students forever.

Portsmouth and the adjacent district covering New Castle, Greenland, and Rye have signed on for Governor Craig Benson’s adopt-a-school program, which works to match businesses with individual schools. But in fact, Seacoast businesses are well ahead of the curve on such initiatives. The local Business Education Collaborative (BEC) organized by the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce has already won the New Hampshire Business Partners in Education’s Gold Circle Award for its work with the schools. The BEC’s pilot mentoring program, pairing carefully screened business owners with 6th-graders, has been so successful that it will probably double in size in the 2003-04 school year. Another of the BEC’s efforts is to link the high school with a biotech business partner, a company that can provide training via teacher internships, contribute equipment for the school’s new biotech lab, and help fine-tune the curriculum through an exchange of ideas. Similar partnerships in fields such as information technology and software development are under consideration for the future, says Jennifer Quinlan, the Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce’s liaison to the BEC.

Innovation, excellence and strong community commitment are evident at the post-secondary level as well. Just a few miles from Portsmouth in Durham is the University of New Hampshire’s main campus, where about 12,000 students are pursuing some 100 programs of study ranging from the humanities and applied arts to cutting-edge science and technology. UNH—rated number one for value in education in New Hampshire and number 15 in the country by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance in January 2003—is a comprehensive research university known for, among other things, its school of engineering and the nationally recognized Whittemore School of Business. Among UNH’s endeavors to link learning and business on the Seacoast is the Whittemore’s Entrepreneurial Internship Program created by Professors Jeff Sohl and Ross Gittell. The program places seniors at innovative small companies and start-ups as part of their coursework —participating mentor/employers are mostly high-tech firms but have also included insurance companies, PR and marketing businesses, and New Hampshire Public Television. Businesses can also collaborate with the Whittemore’s new Corporate Roundtable to have graduate MBA and MS/MOT (Management of Technology) students work on specific projects, or even receive a critique from Sohl’s venture capital course when preparing to seek funding. Such initiatives have resulted in a high degree of satisfaction among businesses, as well as job offers for many UNH graduates. The university also offers a broad continuing education program to Seacoast residents, including seminars and certificate programs in management, business communications, desktop publishing, and more.

UNH is just one of an extensive network of colleges and institutions serving the Seacoast. Without leaving the Portsmouth area, would-be students can choose anything from full-time study for a bachelor’s degree, to part-time study for an associate degree or certificate, to all flavors of personal-enrichment continuing-ed classes in fields as diverse as physical therapy, software development, early childhood education, literature, and accounting. Franklin Pierce, Hesser, McIntosh, New Hampshire Community Technical College, Antioch/New England Graduate School, Daniel Webster, New Hampshire College, Southern New Hampshire University, and the College for Lifelong Learning are among the colleges that provide worthwhile and career-boosting options. These institutions are continually looking for ways to serve Seacoast residents and local businesses.

Staff at Franklin Pierce, for instance, have been talking with e-Coast Technology Roundtable businesses about fielding a local "team" to enter the annual robotics competition sponsored by New Hampshire inventor Dean Kamen. And in addition to offerings such as biotech and IT programs at its Emerging Technology Center at Pease Tradeport, NHCTC creates customized professional development seminars and courses for local businesses—perhaps the ultimate one being the four-year apprenticeship program NHCTC and York County Community College are administering at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

So, live and learn. On the Seacoast, it couldn’t be easier.

Elementary and
Secondary Schools

Parochial Schools
St. Patrick’s
Grammar School
125 Austin Street
Portsmouth, NH 03801

St. Thomas Aquinas High School
197 Dover Point Road
Dover, NH 03820

Private Schools
Acorn School
Winnicut Road
Stratham, NH 03885

Berwick Academy
31 Academy Street
S. Berwick, ME 03908

Children’s House
Montessori School
80 Sagamore Road
Rye, NH 03870

The Cornerstone
Montessori School
146 High Street
Stratham, NH 03885

Exchange City
25 Granite St.
Portsmouth, NH 03801

Governor Dummer Academy
1 Elm Street
Byfield, MA 01922

Great Bay Services
(Special Education)
2061 Woodbury Avenue
Portsmouth, NH 03801

Learning Skills Academy
P.O. Box 955
Rye, NH 03870

Merrowvista Education Center
147 Canaan Road
Center Tuftonboro, NH 03816

Noble High School
388 Somersworth Rd.
North Berwick, ME 03906
(207) 676-2653

Phillips Exeter Academy
20 Main Street
Exeter, NH 03833

Portsmouth Christian Academy
25 Granite Street
Portsmouth, NH 03801

The Richie McFarland
Children’s Center
11 Sandy Point Road
Stratham, NH 03885

Higher Education
Adult Learning
The University of New Hampshire
Durham, NH 03824

UNH Continuing Education
24 Rosemary Lane
Durham, NH 03824

Antioch/New England
Graduate School
195 Commerce Way, Suite G
Portsmouth, NH 03801

College for Lifelong Learning
51 International Drive
Portsmouth, NH 03801

Daniel Webster College
119 International Dr.
Portsmouth, NH 03801

Franklin Pierce College
Arthur Brady Drive
Portsmouth, NH 03801

Hesser College
170 Commerce Way
Portsmouth, NH 03801

McIntosh College
Cataract Avenue
Dover, NH 03820

New England Language Center
16 Hillside Dr.
Rochester, NH 03867

New England School
of Business Services
150 Greenleaf Avenue
Portsmouth, NH 03801

New Hampshire College
150 Greenleaf Avenue
Portsmouth, NH 03801

New Hampshire Community
Technical College-Stratham/Pease
277 Portsmouth Avenue
Stratham, NH 03885

Northern Essex Community College
100 Elliott St.
Haverhill, MA 01830

Saltwater Institute
97A Exchange
P.O. Box 4863
Portland, ME 04112
(207) 775-4355

Southern NH University
150 Greenleaf Ave., Unit 4
Portsmouth, NH 03801

Thompson School
of Applied Science
University of
New Hampshire
Cole Hall
Durham, NH 03824

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